If you are currently contemplating separation or divorce please schedule a consultation to discuss in detail your situation and how Mr. Marx can help affordably guide you through this difficult time. Please fill out the property table form and Vital Statistics Form and bring them with you to your scheduled meeting with Mr. Marx.
A great source of general information regarding the process of filing a
divorce (contested) or dissolution (agreed upon settlement) can be located
at the State of Alaska's Family Law Self-Help website.
Mr. Marx has written a primer on Alaska Divorce Law for your general information:
Pension law is an incredibly complicated and technical area of law that requires a specialist rather than a generalist. Mr. Marx utilizes the consultation services of Willick Law Firm, perhaps the most expert firm in the country in the area of federal and military pensions.
Other helpful links and services:
Property Table Form
Vital Statistics Form
Marriage Information Form
Child Support Guidelines Affidavit (Fill-in pdf)
Child Custody Jurisdiction Affidavit (Fill-in pdf)
Confidential Information Sheet (Fill-in pdf)
FINANCIAL DECLARATION DR-205 (Fill-in pdf)
Divorce Complaint Packet, Pro Se
Dissolution Forms (without children ) (with children)
In Alaska, there are two different types of proceedings that will dissolve a marriage. The first, and more affordable option, is through an agreed upon dissolution. In a dissolution, the parties must agree on all property related and child custody issues, and file a single petition with the court that is signed by both spouses in front of a notary. Whatever you do, you should always have a lawyer review your dissolution agreement before signing, and it is even better to seek counsel to help with mediation or negotiations. After filing the petition, the court schedules a hearing normally about 20-30 days out. The parties then appear in court, with or without counsel. At the hearing, the judge or "master" reviews their agreement, takes some jurisdictional testimony from the parties and usually enters a decree of dissolution that day, or within a few days of the hearing, approving of the parties' agreement.
The other type of proceeding is a contested divorce. A divorce is necessary when the parties cannot agree on all of their property and / or child custody issues. The first party to file a complaint for divorce becomes the plaintiff, and earns the right to present their case first at trial. The other spouse then must file an answer. The complaint and answer together explain in general terms the primary issues that the parties differ on. A lawsuit then ensues, and the parties engage in what is called "discovery" to greater or lesser degrees (i.e. appraisals of property; medical exams; pension evaluations / actuarials, demanding other party release or produce documents or other information, etc.) typically depending upon the risk / reward of doing so. Ultimately, the parties either compromise and settle before trial, with the benefit of private mediators or judicial settlement conferences, or they litigate their issues at a trial, before the judge.
To assist you in identifying your property related issues, keep in mind the following. Alaska is an equitable distribution state. This means that the court will attempt to address the net effects of the divorce by equitably distributing the parties' marital estate. There are three steps to equitable distribution: characterization, valuation, and equitable division.
To characterize what is marital, you must determine what accrued to the marriage (from day one through date of separation) both on the positive and negative side of the marital ledger, except gifts and inheritance. There are other exceptions, but generally, what you acquire before marriage, and after separation is your separate property and will not be divied up in the divorce. The separation date can either be agreed upon or is the date the parties effectively unraveled their financial affairs.
Generally, valuation of marital property is based upon fair market value as close to the date of divorce as possible (agreement or divorce trial date). This means garage sale or Ebay values govern as opposed to replacement value.
Equitable division consists of deciding who gets what. It is based upon a number of statutory considerations that look at the relative age of the parties, length of the marriage, relative health, access to health insurance, relative education and financial opportunity, among other things. The court starts with a presumption that a 50-50 split is equitable and then will vary from an even split if one party is disadvantaged on balance, looking at all the statutory factors. A 70-30 split is nearing the upper end of what the court will generally entertain.
If the court finds the property division is inadequate to address the net effects of the divorce, then it will entertain an award of alimony or spousal support. Such an award must be necessary and just, and there is an abundance of caselaw on finer points surrouding this issue, but generally alimony is limited to a year or two in duration, and is always subject to modification when circumstances change.
Law Office of Brandon C. Marx
*This primer is not intended as legal advice and is provided for general background purposes only.